Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Birding Bloopers!!

I was recently browsing through the archives on Trevor's Birding, and I came across a few postings of amusing anecdotes about birding mistakes and mis-fortunes. They reminded me of a couple of funnies that I was involved in. Back in England, I used to try and get down to the Isles of Scilly each autumn for a weeks twitching. Many of you will know this is a ritual migration of many english birders. All are armed with bins' and 'scopes, and many have short range walkie talkies enabling quick communication of that mega rarity. One October, as I was happily watching Jack Snipe at Lower Moors, call came through: "Does anyone know the difference between a Nightjar and a Nighthawk?" "Where are you?" "Er, up at Green Lane" "OK, We'll be there in five minutes" Meanwhile, hundreds of birders (including me!) where making their way up to Green Lane from various locations across the island, all listening out for the confirmation call. A few minutes later out came the call everyone was waiting for: "All Birders heading to Green Lane, the Nightjar is a cowpat" He'll take a long time to live that one down. Another birding tradition is the year list, and in the northern hemisphere the New Years Day trip has always been a highlight. The pleasure of "ticking" House Sparrow and Starling, Magpie and Blue Tit............... One year a group of friends and I had decided on a trip to South Devon to give our lists a flying start. This journey usually took about 90 minutes, but there is not much traffic on the road at 05:30 on New Year's Day, and we were there in less than an hour!! Freezing cold, pitch black, 30 minutes before sunrise listening to Mallard quacking, Teal and Wigeon whistling, and our teeth chattering!!. Then as the light came up someone called "Little Egret!", (at that time it was still a reasonably rare bird in the UK) four 'scopes all focused, eyes straining through the gloom, eventually all agreeing on the ID of a beautiful ................white plastic pipe!! I'll finish with a couple of photo's - A Nighthawk and a Nightjar, the Nighthawk was taken at Bolivar Flats in Texas and the Spotted Nightjar here in South Australia............but which one is which..........


  1. Tony -
    what a great and entertaining post to start my day with! Thanks.

  2. I cannot think of a birder that hasn't IDed a blastic garbage bag blown up into a trees as a hawk...and if they say they haven't...never loan them money.

  3. Hi Tony, I'm very glad that I wasn't on either of those trips! (-: On the other hand, I probably shouldn't tell you about the traffic cone that I thought was a fox!!! Well it was dusk and it was only for a nano second! (-:

  4. Thanks Wilma and Steve, Birding can be a very entertaining hobby.......frustrating sometimes, but usually entertaining!!
    Jenny, I promise not to name and shame you in any of my stories......remember your first trip to Portland with Paul, Marcus and me....LOL!!